TBEX is supposed to be the largest international conference and networking event for travel bloggers, online travel journalists and new media content creators. Travel brands and industry professionals also attend, so it is definitely top of the list for any blogger.
TBEX partners with fantastic host destinations in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific to bring the travel industry’s most creative minds together to learn, network and do business. In 2017 they will host their European event in Killarney, Ireland.
I detail below what they offer for the registration fee and then a review will follow a bit further down.
Speed Networking at TBEX
Probably the most important function of the conference is their speed networking event. Here anyone can meet industry professionals and other bloggers to exchange ideas.
Drinks Receptions at TBEX
Most people like to drink and they tend to open up with a glass of champagne in hand. So make sure you head to these drinking sessions to meet new guys.
Pre and Post Workshops and Tours
There will be various pre and post event workshops to learn new skills and share ideas.
My Review of TBEX 2017 Killarney
This year’s European Travel Blogger Exchange (TBEX) took place in Killarney in the southwest of Ireland. This was my first TBEX event and I was really looking forward to it back in January when I booked my ticket. I got the super early bird ticket at $127, which I thought was on the expensive side but I was very interested in meeting other bloggers so I went with it.
This was before I attended the Adventure Travel Show in London, the Destinations Travel Show at Olympia, then the Traverse Event in April, again in London, followed by various smaller travel-related events.
All these travel blogger events had lots of presentations by various bloggers and travel writers that have “made it”. I met various top-dogs at the Adventure Travel Show, such as Simon Reeve and well-to-do bloggers at Traverse like Greg at Travezio. I got a lot of new ideas and spent quite a lot of money in the process but I didn’t mind as long as I was learning something new.
The Cost of TBEX
By far the largest investment for me this year was the TBEX event. First, it was in Ireland so I had to fly over there. Then, because it was in the other end of the country I had to travel to Killarney and book a hotel for six nights. I originally booked the whole week off as holiday but then I started to have doubts about the event in August so I only kept Wednesday and Thursday off, the rest of the days I was working in my hotel room.
Having lived in Dublin for six months I knew that the weather in October will be pretty terrible so I quickly cancelled my Pre-Bex cycle tour which I suspected would have been a wash-out. I didn’t get it terribly wrong as it was raining six days out of the seven I was there.
Killarney is an amazing place, but the best time to visit is the summer and not October when the heavens open almost 24/7. I got lucky and on Thursday afternoon it was sunny so I managed to go for a nice walk at Ross Castle.
So the hotel, the bus tickets, the flight, the registration fee and food all came to more than €600 for the week, which I thought was a pretty hefty price for a blogger event!
Maybe I had too high expectations but I thought some of the presentations at TBEX were slightly amateurish: most speakers were talking about themselves instead of sharing ideas and teaching us something new. Out of two days of presentations I enjoyed the one about travel videos, then another by two girls about SEO and another by a couple about Costa Rica and how they built a business. The Trivago presentation was also pretty good, I took some ideas from the slides.
There were quite a few others that I didn’t attend because the subject didn’t interest me or because I already knew what they were going to talk about. One HUGE regret I have is not attending Kerwin McKenzie’s presentation about airlines and how to pitch to them. He was at Traverse too but again I skipped it for something else, which then turned out to be disappointing. Hopefully I will meet him again at another event and won’t miss his speech then!
What I enjoyed most was the speed networking at the event. The organizers said that it is paramount to pre-register because you might end up not having a place. Well, I didn’t know how to use the registration system so I just turned up at the tables and most guys were happy to chat without an appointment.
I also skipped a couple of the more boring presentations and went around the tables having a chat with everyone when it was quietest. This was probably the best thing I did at the event as I met lots of new companies and collected quite a few cards – hopefully I will be able to make some money off the back of these meetings.
One thing I didn’t understand about the speed networking is that more than half of the exhibitors were from Ireland. TBEX being a global event I thought they would have more global exhibitors, hotel chains or publishing firms coming along to do some networking. Instead there were exhibitors from whiskey firms and many local hotels and museums which I had no chance of visiting. That’s because I was heading back to England after the event and Ireland is not on the top of my list for a holiday (sorry), so basically this event was about 25% useful for me.
If you are not a total beginner at blogging I would say you better save the money and go on a holiday instead. For the €600 I could have gone over to Florida or Morocco for a week and have a nice sunny holiday instead of getting soaked in Killarney early October. For next year the organisers picked Zimbabwe (of all places) so I am probably not going to attend.
If you don’t know anything about blogging and you need some ideas as to what to do and how to get started then do go along. You might even be able to make some friends in the process. However, if you want to attend a REALLY good blogging event then book your place for Traverse – I learned a huge amount there and it was great fun! It also costs far less and they pack in a whole week of events that require no registration, VIP lists and VIP buses to attend!
If you are already planning your 2018 calendar check out my conference page for other events.